Visiting Rio Celeste
Locals tell the story of a river turning blue when God dipped his brush in its waters while he was painting the sky. Even though we understand the science behind it now, it doesn’t diminish its magic one bit. Rio Celeste is a river of turquoise blue waters which winds through the park, culminating in an extraordinary waterfall.
Located in the Tenorio National Park, Celeste is easily reached from the international airport of Liberia (LIR). In Rio Celeste, the province of Guanacaste has one of its most stunning natural wonders. You can explore the trails along the rivers and lagoons on foot. If you desire, you can also do so on horseback. You can raft, hike, spot amazing wildlife and even swim! Make sure to do the latter and benefit from the river’s magical healing properties.
Rio Celeste and waterfall hike
Rio Celeste owes its celestial hue to the combination of sulfur and calcium carbonate. While always stunning, the river is most beautiful during dry season. The 6k hike will take you by hot springs, lagoons and viewpoints. But the best is saved for last! You can actually see the exact spot where two rivers meet and the blue river comes to be.
You used to be able to take a relaxing soak in the hot springs but it is no longer allowed. But if you would like to swim and enjoy the therapeutic waters, you can still do so. 1 km from the park entrance you can enter the waters for free. If you want, you can access the river from the Piruri Cabinas too but for $6.
Explore the Biodiversity of Tenorio National Park
There are also tour options that can introduce you to the private nature reserve! The entire park is shrouded in virginal rain forests. It’s home to an abundance of flora and fauna. Tours often follow a five-hour circuit that stops at picturesque vistas, thermal springs and boiling mud pots. Including, of course, the stunning Rio Celeste waterfall. This region is teeming with wildlife. In addition to three of Costa Rica’s monkey species – howler, white-faced and spider, you’re likely to spot sloths, anteaters, collared peccaries, and coatis!
Would you like to do more than just walk? Spend the day rafting 13km of intense waters on the Tenorio river! Navigate the challenging curbs and spot some wildlife along the way. This heart pumping activity is the perfect action packed thrill to combine with the therapeutic Rio Celeste.
Bijagua Tapir Night walk
Why only take a shot at spotting some animals during the day? At 20 km from Rio Celeste, you can find the Bijagua rain forest. Here you can take an amazing night walk through the Tapir Valley! Despite its name, these creatures are actually rather tricky to spot, especially during the day. But since they are nocturnal, this tour will provide you with the best opportunity to see tapir! You can also spot spiders, snakes, jungle cats and other nocturnal animals!
This conical beauty towering over the village of La Fortuna definitely deserves a visit. You can take various hikes throughout the park offering stunning views of the volcano. Make sure you also visit the hanging bridges and the largest human-made lake in Costa Rica!
Visit Miravalles and Rincon de la Vieja
When visiting Tenorio, you should also drop by its charming neighbors. If you are looking to visit a volcano without the hassle of the crowds, you will love Miravalles. Enjoy the thermal hot springs and visit the Llanos de Cortez Waterfall only 30 minutes away. If you are up for a challenge, you can hike all the way to the top! The Miravalles volcano is the highest in Guanacaste with its 2,028 meters! Rincon de la Vieja combines adventure and an incredibly diverse ecosystem with mud pools and waterfalls. Additionally, it is known as the location where you can experience some of Costa Rica’s best hiking trails.
Prepare for mud during the rainy season: During the months of May through November, be sure to pack rain gear and always wear sturdy hiking boots. The paths to Rio Celeste can get very muddy!
Prepare for crowds during the dry season: Visiting Rio Celeste during dry season has its merit. The river will be even more blue and the paths are less likely to be muddy. But make sure you prepare for the crowds that come with these conditions!
Take a combo tour: With Rio Celeste being surrounded by other natural wonders, consider taking a combo tour. That way you can benefit from visiting many different places if you have limited time.
Don’t swim in the national park: It is not allowed to swim in the parts where Rio Celeste meets the national park. There are, however, places outside of the park where you can take a healing dip in the waters. You can even do so for free just by the bridge 1 km away from the park entrance!
Rio Celeste is located at about 2 hours from the Liberia international airport (LIR). The roads reaching this national park have recently been paved. So renting a car or going by shuttle is now extremely comfortable. In order to hit some of the others spots in the province, renting a car is a very good option. If you are traveling from San Jose, you can count on a traveling time of around 4 hours.
Rio Celeste is a little peace of heaven and has some nearby restaurants to complete this image. Make your way to The Farm Restaurant for some high quality local cuisine. Make sure you try the traditional casado! If you are looking for some international influences as well, pay a visit to the charming Hummingbird Cafe.
Where to stay
This light tread region in Rio Celeste offers the perfect escape in the heart of nature. Recommended accommodations near Tenorio include the Rio Celeste Mountain Lodge and Hideaway, both of which feature a secluded setting amid lush jungle with a host of exciting tours including horseback rides and whitewater rafting. Guests can expect the company of toucans, monkeys and colorful butterflies while enjoying breathtaking views of the Rio Celeste and surrounding scenery. Additionally, both lodges keep the environment in mind with in-house recycling programs and other sustainable practices!